Why Phi? – Andrew Cleary / Alpha Nu 1989

I took the year off after High School to make enough cash to pay for some of my education, so when I enrolled at Kean College (as it was known by back in the day) in the fall of ‘88, I was placed in Bartlett Hall instead of the freshmen dorms, missing that experience of bonding w/ my own aged peers. Midway thru that year it also sank in that I was not maximizing my college experience when, once a week, I would approach the entrance to Rodgers and I would hear and watch this rip-roaring time literally flowing out of every window and doorway of this particular first floor dorm room. Wow! ‘Who are these guys in blue?’ ‘Oh, That’s a Frat!?’ Instant jealousy and envy set in. But I was dead-set against joining a frat at the time.

My second year rolls around and I had the same dorm room, but I had a new roommate, Rob Hinkson. Those first couple of weeks, Rob’s friend, Tim Wall, would come by to hang and drink some brews, and he would always wear that same frickin blue frat shirt I saw from the year before. I grilled Tim w/ a million questions. I liked what he had to say, yet I was still skeptical. Rob was already mandated to pledge (the Manalapan connection), and I reluctantly tagged along for his first meeting with Tim’s fraternity brothers.

We sat in a meeting room for about a half hour and nobody showed up. I was ready to bail the scene. Then a couple of guys showed up, Dean Smith and Beast. They did their best to keep us there, but another half hour goes by and I’m again ready to bail. I go to the door to leave and I see this ocean of blue about a hundred yards away approaching the meeting room, led by Russ O’Neill. I was shocked and amazed that these party animals were so organized, and they displayed a quiet confidence about them, a tight-knit camaraderie, etc… and the opportunity these guys were presenting me to party like a rock star (and of course be a part of something bigger) was very appealing.

The day before my pledge class was to kick off our rush/pledge week(s), I attended the Rutgers Homecoming game. It was a cold and rainy weekend. Couple that with Phi’s pledging rituals…(confidential info)…that following Monday morning, I raced back from the football field to the cafeteria, got the breakfast for my big bro’, John “Psyco” Swykowski, and proceeded to spend the next two weeks at the Galloping Hill Hospital w/ Pneumonia. These guys didn’t quit on me. I was afforded my own weekend of “hell”…and the rest is phistory.

You are going to hear this from just about every brother that shares their phistory, but I met some of my life-long best friends by joining Nu Sigma Phi. The word Brotherhood can’t even begin to sum up what these friends mean to me. That alone is irreplaceable in this game of life and exemplifies all the values one seeks when maturing from our teens to our adulthoodness. A quick snippet of just some of my Phi experiences: Spending over two months of life running the Phi Bookstore. We helped our fellow Kean students save tens of thousands of dollars. Without a doubt, the best service any Greek Org. has offered Kean since it’s inception. The campus carnivals: Our hotdog stand, the gaming booth (Mike Connel displaying his Keansburg wares), the year we made our own Hi-Striker, and Omega’s pie-throwing cut-out. The Beefsteak Charlie runs to the city (and not leaving until everyone made at least one trip to the bathroom to empty their stomach). The late-night hockey games on the basketball courts, the Queensryche concert, the Phi 50th Anniversary, the hell weekends.

From the hood to the woods! The roadtrips, the video recorded Pittsburg trip w/ Rez and Rectangle, winning the Greek Olympics. J.T. and the band performing Phi Generation, the dropping of the baton, back to back years, waterpolo, basketball, ultimate Frisbee…we ruled! The off campus “frat” house, The Halloween parties, (All the parties), All the mixers, A shout out to our “sister” sorority Omega Sigma Psi, Phi holding down the highest GPA average for a Greek Organization.

It goes on and on…. To Prospective Pledges: Our fraternity’s motto talks about Nobility, Strength, and Progress thru the ages. When you are a college student it may sound like a just some gibberish that is being fed to you, but as you do progress thru these ages, you’ll one day reflect back and realize how those words ring so true. Diversity, Leadership, Community, all are a part of something that reaches far beyond self. We are not asking anyone to join our fraternity. We are encouraging you to become a part of our fraternity, our family, our brother. Phi, wanna Rock and Roll all night…and party everyday!

Andrew Cleary
Alpha Nu 1989

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